The James and Nellie Butler Scholarship for Community Service
The Albemarle County Democratic Party is pleased to offer $1,000 scholarships to four students in the names of James R. and Nellie M. Butler to honor the Butler’s contributions to the community, in particular, their support of public education and dedication to public service. The four students who will be awarded a scholarship will be from each of the four Albemarle County public high schools, they will be planning to pursue a post-secondary degree, and they will have demonstrated a determination to contribute to their communities as the Butlers have done. Applicants are judged on the basis of their academic record, their commitment to public service, and financial need.
Since the creation of these scholarships by the Albemarle County Democratic Party in honor of James and Nellie Butler, we have provided over $27,000 to county high school students to help defray some of the costs of college.
About the Butlers
James and Nellie Butler lived in Albemarle County for over 40 years, where they were recognized as leaders in public education and public affairs, voter registration, civic engagement, and in their own vibrant church community.
In 1981, James R. Butler became the first African American in Albemarle County to be elected to the County Board of Supervisors, representing the county’s Rivanna District, where he quickly established himself as a champion of fair and equitable teacher salaries. He was a strong and persistent advocate for quality education in Albemarle County schools, an active defender of voter rights, and a leader of recurring voter registration efforts.
Working tirelessly to ensure that the Supervisors would represent all members of the Albemarle community, Mr. Butler also played a vital role in the establishment of the Charlottesville–Albemarle Technical Education Center. He was the first African American executive director of an extension service office in Virginia, a position in which he served for 26 years. James was also a U.S. Army veteran, a deacon and trustee at the St. John Baptist Church (Cobham, VA), and a board member of the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District, the Ivy Creek Foundation, and the Charlottesville NAACP. Recognizing James for his many contributions to Albemarle County in 2000, Baker-Butler Elementary School was named for him and for John E. Baker, the first African American chairman of the Albemarle County School Board. Born in Woodville, Virginia on November 15, 1914, James passed away on March 9, 2003.
Nellie M. Butler worked as a teacher in technical education, and also served as a Girl Scout leader and a 4-H advisor for much of her adult life. She taught at Piedmont Technical Education Center in Culpeper for over 25 years and, alongside her husband James, worked tirelessly on behalf of numerous civic engagement and voter registration efforts. Born in Baltimore, Maryland on March 29, 1923, Nellie passed away on December 28, 2015.